A Lone Geminid Meteor


Lone Geminid Meteor (Dec 12, 2014)

A lone meteor streaks away from the constellation of Gemini, part of the annual Geminid meteor shower.

Once again, as I did last month for the Leonid shower, I set up two cameras firing away hundreds of frames in hope that some would record a few meteors from the annual Geminid shower now going on.

I took about 700 frames, but only this one picked up a meteor. Clouds did intervene for a while – that’s when the brightest meteors would have appeared I’m sure. I observed from my front patio for a while and saw several Geminids, including two beautifully bright ones. But of course, both were just outside the field of both cameras.

I shot the shower tonight, Friday, the night before the peak on Saturday, as the forecast calls for cloud for the rest of the weekend here in southern New Mexico.

So this may be my best shot of the 2014 Geminid meteors.

– Alan, December 12, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer

 

My new eBook on Nightscapes & Time-Lapse Photography


Nightscapes Book Cover

I’m pleased to announce my new ebook, How to Photograph and Process Nightscapes and Time-Lapses

The ebook describes —

How to shoot and process still image “nightscapes” – images of landscapes taken at night by the light of the Moon or stars … and …

How to shoot and assemble time-lapse movies of the stars and Milky Way turning above Earthly scenes, all using DSLR cameras.

Available worldwide only for MacOS and iPads through the Apple iBookstore.

See http://tiny.cc/urdoqx for more about the book at iTunes.

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The 400-page multi-touch book includes

50 embedded HD videos (no internet connection required) demonstrating time-lapse techniques.

60 multi-page tutorials with step-by-step instructions of how to use software: Adobe Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, Lightroom, LRTimelapse, Advanced Stacker Actions, StarStaX, Panolapse, Sequence, GBTimelapse, and more.

Numerous Photo 101 sections explaining the basic concepts of photography and video production (f-stops, ISOs, file types, aspect ratios, frame rates, compression, etc.).

Numerous Astronomy 101 sections explaining the basics of how the sky works (how the sky moves, where the Moon can be found, when the Milky Way can be seen, when and where to see auroras).

Reviews of gear – I don’t just mention that specialized gear exists, I illustrate in detail how to use popular units such as the Time-Lapse+, Michron, and TriggerTrap intervalometers, and the All-View mount, Radian, Mindarin Astro, eMotimo, and Dynamic Perception motion-control units, with comments on what’s good – and not so good – to use.

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You’ll learn —

• What are the best cameras and lenses to buy (cropped vs. full-frame, Canon vs. Nikon, manual vs. automatic lenses, zooms vs. primes).

• How to set your cameras and lenses for maximum detail and minimum noise (following the mantra of “exposing to the right” and using dark frames).

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• How to shoot auroras, conjunctions, satellites, comets, and meteor showers.

• How to shoot nightscapes lit only by moonlit, and how to determine where the Moon will be to plan a shoot.

• How to shoot & stitch panoramas of the night sky and Milky Way, using Photoshop and PTGui software.

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• How to shoot tracked long exposures of the Milky Way using camera trackers such as the iOptron Star Tracker and Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer.

• How to develop Raw files, the essential first step to great images and movies.

• How to process nightscape stills using techniques such as compositing multiple exposures, masking ground and sky, and using non-destructive adjustment layers and smart filters.

• How to shoot and stack star trail images made of hundreds of frames.

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• How to assemble time-lapse movies from those same hundreds of frames.

• How to plan a time-lapse shoot and calculate the best balance of exposure time vs. frame count vs. length of shoot, and recommended apps to use.

• How to process hundreds of frames using Adobe Camera Raw, Bridge, Photoshop, and Lightroom.

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• How to shoot and process advanced “Holy Grail” time-lapse transitions from day to night.

• How to shoot motion-control sequences using specialized dolly and pan/tilt devices.

• How to use time-lapse processing tools such as LRTimelapse, Panolapse, Sequence, and Advanced Stacker Actions.

• What can go wrong and how best to avoid problems in the field.

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It’s a large, multi-media book available only for MacOS and iPads through the Apple iBookstore.

For technical and economic reasons, the book’s size and media content prevent it from being offered via other platforms such as Kindles and Android devices. It is not available as a static PDF or traditional print book. It’s subject makes use of an ebook’s ability to contain interactive and video content.

See http://tiny.cc/urdoqx for more about the book at iTunes. Available worldwide. It’s $24.95 in the U.S.

Supernova Remnant & Star Cluster


Supernova Remnant & Star Cluster in Gemini

A bubble of glowing gas blows away from an ancient dying star, next to a cluster of new stars in Gemini.

This image, from a week ago, captures contrasting stages in the life of a star.

At left is a crescent-shaped bubble of gas called IC 443, or the Jellyfish Nebula, billowing away from the site of an ancient supernova explosion, when a giant star ended its life in a blast thousands of years ago. Estimates put its age as between 3,000 and 30,000 years.

At upper right is the bright open star cluster, Messier 35, a gathering of hundreds of comparatively new stars at the beginning of their lives. M35 lies 2,800 light years away, close enough that its stars are nicely resolved in my photo and in any small telescope. M35 is one of the showpieces of the winter northern sky.

Just below M35 you can see a fuzzy glow. It’s another star cluster, NGC 2158. However, its great distance of 11,000 light years makes it appear as a small, partially-resolved glow, a nice contrast in clusters near and far.

IC 443 Supernova Remnant in Gemini

This image focuses on IC 443, sitting between the stars Eta (right) and Mu Geminorum. The field is filled with other faint nebulosity, all part of the cycle of star birth and death.

– Alan, December 7, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer

Ring Around the Moon


Halo Around the Moon (Dec 1, 2014)

Ice crystals create a ring of light around the waxing Moon.

Clouds have moved in this week in New Mexico but the advancing weather system also brought an atmosphere filled with high altitude ice crystals.

Earlier this week they created a lunar halo – a ring around the Moon. If you look closely you’ll see there are two rings. On the left and right sides (east and west) the halo splits into two. This is an effect of two haloes superimposed: the classic 22° halo and what’s called the “circumscribed halo” which changes shape and size depending on the altitude of the Sun or Moon.

In this case, the Moon was 62° up, and the appearance of the circumscribed halo exactly matches what computer simulations predict for this altitude.

See Les Cowley’s wonderful website on Atmospheric Optics and the page on the shape of the circumscribed halo.

The long 30-second exposure brought out the stars in the moonlit sky.

They say such haloes presage poor weather. This week that proved true as clouds and rain moved in.

– Alan, December 4, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer